I'm not sure what recipes I used for guidance back in the day, but my version seems to vary little from the 'standard' granola recipes out there, with just a few tweaks. I use a combination of olive oil and melted coconut oil instead of the butter called for in many recipes, which swaps out some saturated fat for some good heart healthy fat and flavor. The liquid sweetener, molasses, adds a deep sweet/salty kick. The ground flax seed amps up the 'stealthy healthy' meter just a bit, providing a touch of omega-3's, fiber and protein. The nutty flavor compliments the other ingredients perfectly.
I like using the large natural coconut flakes, which are unsweetened, stand up to the long baking time without overcooking, and impart some nice chew. The melted coconut oil provides a delicious foil to the coconut flakes while providing some good-for-you deliciousness.
Nuts get equal billing here; whereas, some recipes call for a higher oat to nut ratio, my recipe calls for three cups of nuts to three cups of rolled oats. The combination of four different kinds of nuts, including walnuts, pecans, pepitas and sliced almonds, is so much more interesting than just one or two. The kaleidoscope of healthy goodness is just an added bonus.
The other great thing about this recipe is that you really can toss everything together in one large bowl (I, of course, seemingly emptied out the cupboard so that the photographs would be a little more interesting).
Everything gets spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked for nearly an hour. Frequent stirrings are recommended so that the granola does not burn.
What comes out of the oven is oodles of crunchy, not-too-sweet, nutty goodness that can be enjoyed any number of ways, with milk and dried fruit, with yogurt and fresh fruit, or simply out of hand for a delightful, any time snack.
I went the fruit and yogurt parfait route, using frozen fruit (mango and black raspberries here) as I patiently await the appearance of fresh, in-season fruit at the local farmer's market.
True to the Luv'n Spoonfuls philosophy, this is not an overly sweet granola...if you prefer more sweet, add more sugar and/or liquid sweetener of choice. Taste the mixture before baking and adjust accordingly. I really like the flavor that the molasses lends, but any other liquid sweetener would do, such as unfiltered honey or Lyle's Golden Syrup. As well as having a unique, robust flavor, the molasses adds extra health benefits, as it contains potassium, calcium and iron.
3 cups rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick organic)
3/4 cup each walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds and pepitas (or nut mix of choice to total 3 cups)
1 1/2 cup coconut flakes (see notes above)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs unsulphured molasses, or any other liquid sweetener of choice (adjust amount to personal taste)
1/4 cup natural sugar (adjust amount to personal taste)
1/4 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil, combination of both, or any oil of choice to equal 1/4 cup
3 to 4 tbs freshly ground flax seed
dried fruit of choice, if desired (added after baking)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil(s) and molasses over the dry ingredients, stirring to evenly incorporate. Mix until well blended, there are no clumps, and all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Place parchment paper on a large, rimmed cookie sheet (or non-stick method of choice). Pour the granola mixture onto the cookie sheet and spread evenly. Bake for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, stirring the mixture every 10 to 15 minutes or so until deep, golden brown; I usually watch the coconut flakes and almond slivers and use them as my guide. Be vigilant towards the end of the baking period so that the mixture does not burn. Allow to cool completely in the pan for several hours, without stirring. Add dried fruit of choice if desired. Transfer to a large airtight container. Makes approximately 7 to 8 cups of granola.